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Mystery Shopping Discussion

How do you keep track of getting paid?
Posts:101
I'm wondering what others shoppers do to keep track of when they get paid for a shop. Some shops pay two months after the assignment. Do you have a spreadsheet, a file, a shoe box?

Mystery Shopper since 1998; Independent part-time scheduler
August 23, 2013 12:32PM
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Posts:110
I keep my reports filed by companies and remove them when I get paid. I then save the reports for another month before throwing them away.
August 23, 2013 12:36PM
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Posts:2,939
I do that too and also use Excel which keeps track of everything, including dd and paypal. smiling smiley


ctalbert Wrote:
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> I keep my reports filed by companies and remove
> them when I get paid. I then save the reports for
> another month before throwing them away.
August 23, 2013 12:44PM
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Posts:153
I have a spreadsheet and a shoe box for receipts that are kept in envelopes for their respective month.
August 23, 2013 12:44PM
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Posts:32
I start a new spreadsheet every month to keep track of companies, shops, mileage, fees and reimbursement. I keep all of my receipts and business cards in envelopes and I also keep digital copies. Also, I mark expected pay dates on my calendar.

Making a living one shop, one click at a time.
reallifebusiness101.com
August 23, 2013 01:41PM
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Posts:2,136
I do the same as tarameshale. I keep a spreadsheet and start a new spreadsheet every month listing all the shops I did along with fees, reimbursements, mileage etc. The at the bottom of the spreadsheet I keep a total of what's owed to me by the company for that month. When I receive the money I just take the amount off the bottom of the spreadsheet.

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I'm not from round these parts...
August 23, 2013 02:54PM
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Posts:182
I keep one on-going spread sheet for the year. I include: assignment number, date I am scheduled to do the shop, the shop name, scenario/person shopped, type of shop (by industry), address, and MSP and the date I submitted the shop. I also have columns for the fee, reimbursement, tolls and Round Trip mileage. This makes it easier. The type of shop is just for me, it's interesting to see how many 'bank jobs' I do vs 'cell phone shops.'

Shops completed & paid are in regular typeface in black, shops rejected for whatever reason (I note the reason in a Notes column) are in red. Bold green are for the shops I am assigned but have not yet done and green regular type are the shops that I have done & submitted, but for which I have not yet been paid. This makes it easy for me to see and keep track of my accounts receivable.

I also keep an address book for my User Names & Passwords by MSP. Under each, I also list how they pay (PayPal, DD, PayQuick or snail mail), what format they require for proof of visit images and any other info, such as scheduler name/number info, if appropriate. Even though I have most of the user names saved on my computer along with the passwords, it is really helpful & important to keep a paper back up. More than once, I have called home and asked my husband to give me my user name & password so I can log on at a library when I've needed to check something. These 2 tools (address book & spreadsheet) are my best suggestions for organization.

As for keeping files, etc. I hate filing. About once a quarter, I file away paperwork. The stack is now about a foot high. I sort by company and then quarterly perge & file. I know I should do it more often, but the file cabinet is next to my husband's desk and it is not always accessible because of him (no room on my side of the office).
August 23, 2013 03:37PM
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Posts:50
My goodness! And here I thought my little spreadsheet and shoebox was going to be enough. I guess I need to start adding in more columns smiling smiley

On a side note, I don't want to gank anyone else's work, but I would love to see a heading in excel that some of the veteran's use. I don't want to have a heart attack in two months because I can't remember something I should have wrote down smiling smiley
August 23, 2013 04:32PM
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Posts:329
My Spreadsheet has Dae, MSC, Location name and address, Town and state (to pay taxes to multiple states), Fee, Out of pocket; Project ID number; Amout paid to me; Milage; Date of payment; Method (Direct Deposit, Paypal or if paid by check I write down the check number).
My spreadsheet lasts all year, I close every months with a red line and write the subtotal of the month. After every year I open a new spreadsheet page in the same file. So I can easily go check back in the past years (I highlight in green the non paying companies so I can find them easy even after long time....just need a bit of patience LOL). I keep thinking is I need to add anything, but I cannot think of anything important. When I find it out it will be too late ouch.

Anyway. When tax time comes, I make a copy of the spreadsheet. I don't know why, but the scheme with color will not place the in order as I want. I trensform it in a plain sheet and re order for once company at the time so I can easily see the total to report for taxes. Once taxes is done I delete the copy and continue working with the original file.

I keep telling myself to make a copy, but I am always too lazy LOL.
August 23, 2013 07:02PM
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Posts:15,306
Why would you pay taxes to multiple states? Maybe I've got it wrong, but my business is based in Missouri and I pay taxes to the state where my physical business is located.

My spreadsheet sounds much simpler than some of the others. The main page lists all my mystery shopping companies along with their payment details. A new column is added each month and keeps a running total of income (without reimbursements), the total number of shops and my average per shop for the month. Outstanding payments are entered in red and changed to black as they are paid. When the month is closed out the header is changed to black.

Each month I create a new calendar for the individual assignments. The client and location are listed and at the bottom of each day is the total amount for that day along with the mileage. The monthly page also calculates my income and mileage by the week and then the total for the month. It is color coded with red for outstanding shops, green for completed and black for paid. I never have reimbursement only shops and with rare exceptions, most reimbursements are insignificant and not included in my income for the spreadsheet. However, since I also track all my finances using Quicken, expenses and reimbursements are there.

If you have to ask if it's too early to drink wine...you're an amateur and we can't be friends.

We've gotta roll with the punches. Learn to play all of our hunches. Makin' the best of whatever
comes our way. Forget that blind ambition and learn to trust your intuition. Plowin' straight ahead, come what may.
August 23, 2013 09:22PM
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Posts:329
I don't know. I was told that when you work in one state, but leave in another you pay two taxes. I live and my company is ine state, but I aactually do the job in another state, so I thought you have to pay also the taxes in the state where you carry out the job.
If I was wrong it is better, since this is I carried out many jobs out of state. Anyone expert on taxes has an input? (Sorry to OP if I went away from the main topic a little bit).
August 24, 2013 06:56AM
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Posts:295
italiano Wrote:
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> I don't know. I was told that when you work in one
> state, but leave in another you pay two taxes. I
> live and my company is ine state, but I aactually
> do the job in another state, so I thought you have
> to pay also the taxes in the state where you carry
> out the job.
> If I was wrong it is better, since this is I
> carried out many jobs out of state. Anyone expert
> on taxes has an input? (Sorry to OP if I went away
> from the main topic a little bit).

I pay taxes only in the state in which I live. We are not employees of the places we are shopping. We are independent contractors. We pay a state tax to the state in which we live.

"Evolve thyself and lose all hate...." Orphaned Land
August 24, 2013 08:30AM
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Posts:295
iamloved1 Wrote:
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> I'm wondering what others shoppers do to keep
> track of when they get paid for a shop. Some shops
> pay two months after the assignment. Do you have a
> spreadsheet, a file, a shoe box?


I use the job organizer at www.mystshopsol.com.

"Evolve thyself and lose all hate...." Orphaned Land
August 24, 2013 08:32AM
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Posts:9,428
You file and pay income taxes only to the state in which you live. While traveling in another state, of course, you are responsible for sales tax on purchases but you will not be taxed by that state on money earned there.
August 24, 2013 08:36AM
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Posts:1,641
I live right on the border for two states. For many years, I worked for a company that was in Minnesota while I lived in Wisconsin. The company withdrew state income taxes for Minnesota all year. When I got my W2, I would file for Minnesota to get a full refund and then income pay taxes to Wisconsin.


I think there are other ways to handle this, but it was a really small company, so they did what was easiest for them.
August 24, 2013 02:38PM
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Posts:1,055
I use a spreadsheet that I use in combination with a calendar as an appointment book.

When I am assigned a shop, I put it in that spreadsheet and make a listing on the calendar.

To verify payments, every month or so, I go backwards in time down the list of completed shops in my spreadsheet and look for payments that should have been paid. I do this by MSP. For example, some MSPs I work with will pay to my bank account on the 20th of the month for shops completed in the past month. So, if I were to look today, August 24th, I should have recent payments from those MSPs for July shops. For all such shops, I will check my Paypal account, or bank account or the box where I put paper check receipts for payments and mark those paid and enter the amount paid and when payment was received. Some MSPs pay at a slower rate than listed above. For those, I just realize payment isn't due and just check next time.

Good luck

PS: I do about 25 shops a month and a recent event made me realize just how very satisfying it is to go down my list and find that all shops that are due are actually paid. In other words, I learned to work with companies that pay within the time that they promise. Recently, one new-for-me MSP was late with payment. Thus, I had to chase the payment. I found it quite annoying to take time and to worry about being paid at all. The lesson learned was to work only with MSPs that pay when they promise to pay.

Happily shopping Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts
August 24, 2013 04:12PM
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Posts:181
I too use a spread sheet. I have all the MSC's I am contract with, when and how they pay (5th, 10th, 20th, 14 days out, Paypal, direct deposit, check, whatever). Under each month I put what I am owed. I have a column that has the amount that I have scheduled with the company but not yet done. When I put in the report, I transfer that amount to the receivables column for that month. When I get paid I highlight the column. Those companies that pay more than once a month, I highlight in a lighter shade until the entire amount has been paid. At the bottom I keep running totals of what I am scheduled to work, what has been earned but not paid and what I have earned year to date and paid year to date.

I keep track of mileage and nights away from home as well as expenses on another page. I break the expenses out into tolls, hotel rooms, office supplies, etc. for the tax man.

I know how much I need to make each month and the total receivables keeps me working. When I get a really good payday, it drops those receivables way down and I know I had better hustle to get that number back up there. Cash flow is all important so I will occasionally take some cheap shops just because of when they pay. I know I will need the money for some gas about that time....

At his point, I mostly work for 5 or 6 companies and do the odd jobs for the other 60+ that I am registered with to keep the cash flow steady throughout the month.

I file jobs by company and when I get paid I purge that file. I have a box that the reports get put into and every month or two I empty that. I have never not had the notes on a job that I have needed.

The main thing is to find a system that works for you and who ever does your taxes. I found I was spending a lot of time on needless bookkeeping exercises that I could better use shopping or having fun. This is my job and I have done as many as 100 shops in a week. Too much paperwork with the reporting as it is! I don't need extra hassles with accounting stuff.
August 24, 2013 09:26PM
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Posts:329
I would give you a suggestion. Do not get stressed about who pays and when. Trust me I live paycheck to paycheck and I count on MS money a lot, but still I do not stress about payments.
Every two months go back and check if you still have outstanding jobs. That is when you should worry about checking into payment dates. Keep a good record system, but worry more about the jobs, look for them and do them.
Many of us work a lot with a good cirlce of MSC that we get to trust and we do not have to keep checking out in our datasheets. By now I keep a record of the jobs only for tax reasons. I can pretty much remember when I work for a new MSC and I keep in my mind to check after 2 months.

Basically what I wanted to say is know the MSCs' like you know what you have in your pockets. After that, tracking their payments will be futile...
August 24, 2013 10:09PM
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Posts:15,306
Tracking payments is never futile and is part of being a small business owner. The key is not to ignore it, but to find an easy and efficient method. Waiting too long can also result in more difficulty when there is an error. The best of companies can make a mistake and addressing it in a timely manner is best for their business and yours.

If you have to ask if it's too early to drink wine...you're an amateur and we can't be friends.

We've gotta roll with the punches. Learn to play all of our hunches. Makin' the best of whatever
comes our way. Forget that blind ambition and learn to trust your intuition. Plowin' straight ahead, come what may.
August 24, 2013 10:41PM
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